Understanding V02 Max

Your V02 max is one of those vital stats that endurance athletes should always be trying to improve. In short it is the maximum amount of oxygen the body can utilise during exercise. The more oxygen the body can utilise the more power you can exert for longer periods of time. 

Most people assume that in order to improve your VO2 max you just need to improve your aerobic capacity and the only way to do that is with punishing cardio sessions. However, to really understand V02 max, you need to know it’s controlled by two key variables:

The first is how much blood your heart can send to your muscles, a combination of the heart rate, stroke volume, and heart contractility (the power at which your heart can physically contract)

The second is how much of the oxygen that has been sent to your muscles is actually extracted from the blood and used by the muscles before the blood heads back to your heart.

As we increase our power output during a race or training, we in turn recruit more types of muscle fibre. When we use the three types of muscle fibres, we do it in a specific order. 

  1. Slow twitch
  2. Slow twitch plus FTA (an intermediate fast twitch fiber) 
  3. Slow twitch plus FTA and FTx (a dedicated anaerobic fast-twitch fibre)

A study entitled ‘Neuro-muscular electrical stimulation training enhances maximal aerobic capacity in healthy physically active adults’ revealed that training FTa and FTx fibres showed greater improvements in VO2max than just training the aerobic ST muscle fibres. 

This gain in VO2 max is a result of the increase in density of mitochondria in your cells that utilise oxygen to manufacture high levels of ATP energy via the breakdown of carbohydrates or fat. So if you increase your mitochondrial density, more energy becomes available to your working muscles, which allows you to produce higher amounts of force for longer periods of time.

 To summarise, in order to maximise VO2max, you must improve the aerobic capacity of both the slow and fast-twitch muscle fibres.

So how can you incorporate EMS into your training?

At MyoMaster we have created an incredible Electro Muscular Stimulation device - The MyoPulse. With 36 individual programs that can be focussed on specific muscle groups.

While most of us only train one muscle fibre type at a time, either going slow and steady to train slow twitch or fast paced anaerobic to train fast twitch. With EMS, it makes you train both fiber types at the same time, no matter which type of training you usually do.

This approach is not actually doubling the training load on one muscle fiber type, which can be detrimental to the muscle through overtraining. Instead, EMS trains two different muscle fibre types at one time within each 48-hour training window. More of the muscle will be fatigued. The muscle adapts and can handle more load.

To effectively incorporate EMS, take your MyoPulse and using the pads, attach it to the area you want to train. Set it to the program that you want, there are 3 with differing lengths of time and simply sit back and relax while the MyoPulse does the work for you. The ideal time frame to use EMS is approximately 25 - 35 minutes depending on the size of the muscle group and use it on days off from regular training.